On the History of Blogging

In November 1994, I sat in Central Park and was amused by some things I saw. When I got back to my computer, I created a new section on my website called The Journal and wrote about it. In hindsight, this was my first ever blog entry. Of course, it wasn’t a true blog in the sense that it had no RSS feed and wasn’t managed in any kind of content management system. But it was a posting about something I wanted to share and I began adding to that list. Over the next 15 years, I’ve (mostly) consistently continued this tradition right up to today (this site you are reading). Whether I was the first ever blogger is an entirely academic and, to me, uninteresting question. I was among the first and that’s enough for me. 

What is interesting is what happened in 1997 when Dave Winer started NewsPages. I was an early adopter of Userland’s Frontier tool and an avid user of it (in 1996 I built an entire Help Desk CRM tool using it for Dartmouth College that was still in use years after I left to attend grad school). Winer’s tool made it easy to both post blog entries as well as provided the RSS feed capability to allow you to subscribe to them. The second I saw it, I grabbed it, installed, it and began using it.

Of particular interest, and the reason I bring this up at all today, is Winer reporting today on his blog about an academic paper by Rudolf Ammann, presented at Hypertext 2009 in Torino, Italy (oh to be in Italy again!). The Paper is titled, Jorn Barger, the NewsPage Network, and the Emergence of the Weblog Community and goes into great detail on how NewsPages helped start a worldwide movement. I’m mentioned under my pre-marriage name of Andy J. Williams but it’s me all the same. 

So, that was something fun to wake up to this morning. I’ll try to contact the author to have him correct my name.

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